General Qamar Javed Bajwa
The exit of General Raheel Shareef in a given physical time took care of one phase of operations. Bajwa takes over at a second phase. That of consolidating the gains made by his predecessor in North Waziristan and other areas. This phase must be consolidated with implementation of NAP- the steps that the civil government must accomplish. Without this, military operations can be viewed as temporary relief only.
A wave of recent terrorist attacks in Mohmand and South Waziristan are a matter of concern.
An issue that needs addressed and can no further be delayed is the status of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates. Declared as terrorist outfit by UN, on September 28, 2016, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary released Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Call with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval of India that reads as follows:
“National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice spoke today by phone with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Ambassador Rice strongly condemned the September 18 cross-border attack on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri and offered condolences to the victims and their families. Ambassador Rice affirmed President Obama’s commitment to redouble our efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism throughout the world. Highlighting the danger that cross-border terrorism poses to the region, Ambassador Rice reiterated our expectation that Pakistan take effective action to combat and delegitimise United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates. In the context of the robust U.S.-India partnership, Ambassador Rice discussed our shared commitment with India to pursuing peace and regional stability and pledged to deepen collaboration on counterterrorism matters including on UN terrorist designations.”
(LINK: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/28/statement-nsc-spokesperson-ned-price-national-security-advisor-susan-e )
In my Op-Ed dated October 3, 2016, Muazz Ahsan, Director Programming GEO News, stated the following:
“Inaction or no response is not a strategy. The UN has banned these organisations so either we agree with the UN or we do not. If we agree, we must take every possible action to make sure that we are not seen by the world as a state that is protecting individuals or organisations that the UN considers terrorist.
Alternatively, if we do not agree with the UN we must stand with these organisations and fight their case on every international platform. So this continuous Indian propaganda and blackmailing ends.”
No longer can this issue be brushed under the carpet.
An important point would be about Punjab Ops. Though the day following 72 innocent civilians was brutally killed in Lahore Park by a suicide bomber in March 2016, a decision was taken in principle to clear Punjab of terrorists. Mian Abrar, on March 29, 2016, writing for Pakistan Today wrote, “The army leadership chaired a separate meeting during the day and then announced that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had ordered a “full-blown operation” against terrorists in Punjab. (The prime minister’s speech, while it referred to the operation in general terms, did not talk about one in Punjab.)
The PML-N leadership, including its Punjab chief minister has put up stiff resistance to calls for a paramilitary operation in Punjab.” The speech referred to the one made a day following the park attack in which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the nation on Monday night reiterated Pakistan’s “resolve to fight the menace of terrorism till it is rooted out from our society”. “The government’s leniency should not be mistaken for the State’s weakness,” the premier had warned.”
One is positive no COAS would wish to be drawn into a serious conflict with any other nation due to any adventurism by an organisation. This brings us to the dangerous games by Modi sarkar against Pakistan that is completely unnecessary and provocative. The constant violations on LoC, the efforts at international level to ‘isolate’ Pakistan that is now not being taken seriously and exposing India’s deep seated desire alone needs careful evaluation. A calculated assessment of support of nations to whom India’s ill-conceived maneuverings do not sit well with are the need of the day.
Coupled with an unsettled Afghanistan, the spillover effect of which can only result in an unsettled Pakistan, the increased cozying up of Trump’s America with Modi’s India and current policy of giving greater space to India in Afghanistan is a serious issue coupled with the porous border shared by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Another question that must be addressed for long term politics is the reinstatement of the elements involved in terrorism in mainstream society. Can this be achieved? There seem to be no global trends of success of this. “The trouble with religious terrorists is that they are not only prepared to die for their beliefs but also to kill others who do not share their beliefs. These others – infidels, heretics and apostates – are a challenge to the true believer’s religious or ideological framework. Rather than trying to reason with them, the terrorist extremist seeks to silence them by threats of violence.” (Owen Anderson, Lemma ‘Philosophical Perspectives’; in Jeffrey Ian Ross (ed.) Religion and Violence: An Encyclopedia of Faith and Conflict from Antiquity to the Present (2011), pp.560.)
Susmita Thukral in her paper (2005) exploring reasons to why people join terrorist organisations offers many reasons i.e.: humiliation, vengeance and revenge, and social and political grievances among others. “Terrorist organisations in other parts of the world, like the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, also resound with the theme of humiliation as a major catalyst to resorting to terrorism. For them, American presence in Saudi Arabia and the Middle-East in general is highly unjust and humiliating. The relative deprivation theory has been called upon many times to explain that the terrorism originating from the middle-east represents a cry against colossal economic deprivation when brought on by the West,” she states.
It’s a tall order the new COAS faces. The expectation graph is high!
The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She tweets at @yasmeen_9.